Paludarium Setup!

elustig

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Hey all!

I am creating this thread so I can have something to document the progress of my 34(ish) gallon paludarium build for my axolotl! The tank dimensions are about 30 inches wide, 22 inches tall, and 12 inches deep. Since the aquarium is so tall, I decided that the top portion of the tank could be a good place for non-aquatic plants. I only gave myself about 5 inches of space to work with, and I plan on having a lid, so I cannot have very tall plants.

If you have any recommendations about design or the plants that I should put in here, they are totally welcome! What are a few plants that could have their roots submersed in the water? In the back right corner, I have a hole which is where my filter will fit through, but I want to have a temporary cover. I think that I could find a potted, water loving plant, and have it sit in this hole until I need to clean the filter. Additionally, the land plants will have access to high light, and I will have plenty of floating plants and other cover so the axolotl will not be stressed. Currently, the land covers almost half of the aquarium, and I want to build some caves for the bottom of the tank as well.

I have never used expanding foam before, will this break down over time? Should I be concerned about it constantly being in contact with the water and leaching chemicals?
 

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elustig

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I am thinking that I should add a small, lower level where I can put some aquatic grasses or other plants, what do you think? What types of materials should I use to create a cave at the bottom? I am thinking some slate and other rocks stacked up and siliconed together would like nice. I also drew the filter in, and want to come up with a way to cover it up, maybe by also making another, larger cave and putting the filter behind it.
 

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Giuseppe

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Please keep updating I've been wanting to do something similar! Do you build vivariums for other animals? The methods you're using made me curious as they're a lot like how people do hardscapes for bioactive vivs
 

elustig

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Giuseppe, I have a bioactive vivarium for my ball python, though I had someone build the "hardscape" for me. In his setup right now, aside from the sticks and hide that I put in there, there is a styrofoam background that wraps around whole tank and is designed to look like rocks. I do plan on removing the snake and everything in it to build more permanent looking hides and structures! I probably will use the leftovers from this axolotl tank build for that :) I have done a lot of research and I have seen people build hardscapes or backgrounds for the aquariums in this manner. Basically using egg crate as a base, expanding foam that's carved out, and painting on aquarium safe silicone with either gravel, sand or dirt. I haven't seen much of this done with axolotls, so I am going to be paranoid (I already am) about introducing my year old axie to the tank. Of course I am hoping that this will work out well for Mooncake the axolotl, but if it doesn't I am probably just going to use it for fish! :)
 

elustig

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Here's an update! I decided to build a small second level, and I will be moving Mooncake's current hide into the lower left corner, and slightly covering it with the river rocks to make it look a little more natural. Are there any suggestions of plants that would enjoy being in rooted in the water here? I am thinking a type of marsh-loving grass would look nice.



So far the terrestrial plants are: Adiantum raddianum (Maidenhair Fern), Syngonium podophyllum (Nephthytis), and some plants I found in our pesticide/herbicide-free yard including violets, mosses, and some sort of ground covering plant.



The fern is currently in a pot that is positioned so the base just touches the water, and it has rocks at the base so the soil should not be soaked all the time. However, I have had it sitting in a container with water for the last several weeks (after accidentally letting it dry out, and losing lots of leaves) and it has a lot of new growth. It is covering the hole in the land area which is where I reach the filter. The rest of the plants have a relatively small amount of soil that they are growing in, so I may have to do some reconstruction in those areas to give them space for more soil. The sand I am using is something I got from my local fish store. It is called Lapis Lustre and it is a very nice colored light brown sand (versus the gray playsand I was considering). I think that as I clean the extra dirt that has fallen into the tank, the sand will look very nice!



Now that I have it mostly setup, aside from aquatic plants, I have decided that I want to have a background that wraps around the back and sides. I will probably either use black paint, or car windshield tint. Hopefully that doesn't require me to empty the whole tank.


Any recommendations for lights that I should use? I currently have a small LED Nicrew light resting on the top glass, but I think I need something stronger that will reach further into the water column. I am thinking of attaching 2-3 pendant style lights with LED bulbs. I also have a long fluorescent bulb fixture that I could elevated over the tank, but that would not be as aesthetically pleasing. It would work for the time being though :D
 

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elustig

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Here are some progress photos of this tank! I am still looking to add something to the lower land level that would be mostly in water. But I have added a big anubias that is still in its pot since I am not sure where I want it to go, a big java fern, some floating dwarf water lettuce and a sprig of Hydrocotyle japan.


Mooncake the axolotl is thoroughly enjoying her new setup! I named her after the character Mooncake in the show Final Space :)



Suggestions on more plants or other additions are welcome!


Water Parameters-
pH: 7.2
Ammonia, Nitrate, Nitrates: 0
GH: 3
KH:1
TDS: 160
 

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KumquatSquats

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i love it!
my only suggestion is maybe using something to increase GH/KH a little more, those plants will suck up the nutrients and a higher KH can keep the Ph more stable over time.
i try to keep my KH between 2-4
 

elustig

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i love it!
my only suggestion is maybe using something to increase GH/KH a little more, those plants will suck up the nutrients and a higher KH can keep the Ph more stable over time.
i try to keep my KH between 2-4

Thanks! What do you like to use to increase KH? I read that some baking soda will do the trick? And is that axolotl safe?
 

KumquatSquats

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Thanks! What do you like to use to increase KH? I read that some baking soda will do the trick? And is that axolotl safe?
Baking soda works but it can spike pH really fast too so if you use that i'd advise mixing with water in a bucket first then testing before adding to the tank.
right now for KH i use seachem alkaline buffer, my tap water has a low pH so the increase is welcome. eventually i'd like to make a custom mix but thats a lot of math for me
 
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